Friday, November 26, 2010

Friends and Followers Gift Guide



Happy Black Friday!



1) I think the Cake Bites from Maid of Flours would be the absolute perfect hostess or teacher gift. Cake bites are yummy cake morsels dipped in chocolate.  They have more than a half dozen flavors and use milk chocolate, white chocolate and vanilla coating for dipping.  Current flavors include red velvet, Italian cream, spiced pumpkin, coconut, confetti cake and lemon. During other seasons they offer key lime and Irish cream.  Cake bites are easily shipped and arrive in a gift box with a bow.  Cake bites are offered by the dozen for $20 (excluding shipping).



2) Panhandle Girl makes all-natural, vegan-friendly bath & body products with a retro-glam flair. She uses sustainably-sourced, and organic ingredients.

 3) Embellishing Life with Handmade Goodness offers the most adorable paper crafts perfect for holiday season.  My favorites are the snowflake Christmas Gift Tag and the Green and White Mini Album Ornament



4) Just Enough Style has a collection of adorable custom and colorful jewelry at very affordable prices.  It is a place to find simple and unique accessories for your everyday life. 


If you are looking for a unique gift this holiday season, please visit the shops of the This Mommy Loves Friends and Followers and show some bloggy love! 

Cheers!
Jenn

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How To Organize a Secret Santa Exchange Online


I always find myself organizing a few different Secret Santa gift exchanges each year and I'm so glad I stumpled upon Elfster.com.  This site is super easy to organize one or multiple Secret Santa Gift Exchanges. 


Elfster is a free online Secret Santa organizer and social networking platform for gift-giving.  Elfster gives time-strapped party planners and gift givers (um, yes that's me) the tools to plan and organize Secret Santa gift exchanges. 

There are several options for each gift exchange and it gives the organizer the ability to peak at the draw or get left in the dark.  The organizer also has the abillity to rig the draw to make it so that certain pairrings happen or don't happen.  Example:  Ashley hates Beth so let's avoid that exchange or rather let's rig it so they are forced to do something nice for one another.  Muahaha.

Elfster.com really is a great service.  Hope it helps you in your holiday planning!

PS.  Sorry for the lack of posts this week.  Our family was sick half the week and in Disney World for the other half.  More on that trip later in the week. 

Cheers!
Jenn

Spring Sale - Free Products Just For You!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

DIY Matchbox Car Caddy by Homemade by Jill


This post from Homemade by Jill makes me wish I could sew because my nephew would LOVE this.  But just because the thought of trying to figure out how to thread my sewing machine gives me an eye twitch, doesn't mean you share my hatred, so check out this adorable DIY Matchbox car caddy tutorial for full instructions. 



This adorable fold up wallet-looking-thingy...

...opens up to be this awesome car garage racktrack mat thingy.

Go check it out.  It's pretty cool.  Perfect for travel.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ladybug 2nd Birthday Party


It's a ladybug party!!!  One of my mommy squaders, Keri, threw her daughter an adorable ladybug party at their home.  There were so many unique touches that made the party really special!

For starters, here's Keri sorting through 1,500 REAL LIVE ladybugs to fill little ladybug cups that were put on each of the tables.  The kids had so much fun letting them crawl all over their hands.  Plus, who knew ladybugs were so good for your yard?


Floral Centerpieces, ladybug cups, and red and black licorice on all the tables.


The happy birthday girl, Marina!

Super cute Birthday Banner.  Printables by Dimpleprints.  Same gal that did my Pancakes and Pajamas Invitations!

Goodie Bags including handmade ladybug antenna, Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies, Chocolate-Chocolate Chip cookies from The Capital Baker,


and these adorable  chocolate ladybug pops.








The food!  Yum!

Buffet Highlights:
The Spiked "Ladybug Juice" was a concoction of: 1L Bacardi light rum, triple sec, 1 gallon hawaiian punch, 1/2 gallon orange juice, 1/2 gallon pineapple juice and slices of oranges and pineapple.  So delish!

Buffalo Chicken Dip:
1 whole cooked chicken
12oz btl of Franks Buffalo Hot Sauce
4oz feta cheese crumbles
4oz blue cheese crumbles
1/4lb Low Fat cream cheese at room temp.
Finely shredded cheddar cheese
1. Cut fully cooked chicken up into bite size pieces, set aside
2. Pour jar of buffalo sauce and cream cheese into microwave safe bowl, warm for about 4 minutes. then mix together with food processor or hand mixer until a smooth, creamy texture.
3. Combine the bite size chicken pieces, sauce mix and feta and blue cheeses into large, oven-safe bowl. mix well.
4. You can either refrigerate for later or next day use or,
5. Sprinkle finely shredded cheddar cheese over top of dip and cook in over for 30minutes at 325 F.
Enjoy with celery, or chips!



Ladybug Pinata

Silly girls!

Great job, Keri!  The creativity of my mommy squaders never ceases to amaze me!  I'm so glad I have a group of supportive mommas that provide endless ideas for the This Mommy Loves blog. 

You may also like:   
Audrey's 2nd Birthday - Toddler Ice Cream Shoppe
Need a gift idea for your favorite tot?  Inexpensive Gifts for Toddlers

I like to LINK UP at the following Link Parties!

Just a Girl, Tatertots and Jello, Between Naps on the Porch, Skip to My Lou, Paisley Passions, Be Different Act Normal, I Heart Naptime, Its So Very Cheri, All Thingz Related, Young & Crafty, Sumo's Sweet StuffIt's a Blog Party, Fingerprints on the Fridge, Kojo Designs, Mommas Kinda Crafty, The Trendy Treehouse, Making the World Cuter, Mad in Crafts, Bella Before and After, These Creative Juices, Lucky Star Lane, My Frugal Family, Today's Creative Blog, Someday Crafts, My Backyard Eden, 733, The Thrifty Home, Somewhat Simple, Fireflies and Jelly Beans, The Shappy Chic Cottage, The Girl Creative, Life as Lori, Beyond the Picket FenceNot So Crafty, Sugar Bee Craft Edition, The Shabby Nest, Craft-o-maniac


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Etsy Holiday Gift Guide


It's that time of year to start your Christmas shopping! Every Friday until Christmas, I'm going to be featuring some of the items that are on my shopping list for family and friends.  This first gift guide is all about Etsy!  Here are some great ideas for her, him, and the kids. 








Don't forget, if you are a This Mommy Loves follower and you'd like to have your shop or product featured in our special Friends and Family gift guide for FREE, please email me at thismommyloves@gmail.com.

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with any of the above mentioned Etsy Shops. I simply like these products and think they would be good gifts. I wish Etsy had an affiliate program for bloggers but as of yet, they do not. Too bad for me.

Free Shipping + 50% Off Holiday Cards and More!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

DIY Racetrack Mat


We recently held a Megablok themed playdate at our house and my Handy Husband created this awesome Racetrack Mat for under $10 that can be used again and again. 


Supplies Needed:
Large White Paint Tarp ($7 at Home Depot)
Spray Paint (Black, Blue, Green, Brown)

 Draw your track using black spray paint.

Next:  Add a lake and some sand.

Fill in with green grass and add some trees.

The great thing about spray paint is it dries really quickly.  The tarp can be folded up easily and stored away out of site.

And special thanks to the Handy Husband who did this at 10pm the night before the playdate!  Such a good daddy!

I like to LINK UP at the following Link Parties!

Just a Girl, Tatertots and Jello, Between Naps on the Porch, Skip to My Lou, Paisley Passions, Be Different Act Normal, I Heart Naptime, Its So Very Cheri, All Thingz Related, Young & Crafty, Sumo's Sweet StuffIt's a Blog Party, Fingerprints on the Fridge, Kojo Designs, Mommas Kinda Crafty, The Trendy Treehouse, Making the World Cuter, Mad in Crafts, Bella Before and After, These Creative Juices, Lucky Star Lane, My Frugal Family, Today's Creative Blog, Someday Crafts, My Backyard Eden, 733, The Thrifty Home, Somewhat Simple, Fireflies and Jelly Beans, The Shappy Chic Cottage, The Girl Creative, Life as Lori, Beyond the Picket FenceNot So Crafty, Sugar Bee Craft Edition, The Shabby Nest, Craft-o-maniac

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Educational Play with Megabloks


I recently hosted a Megablok themed playdate.  All 9 toddlers and their mommas had a great time playing.  The day after our big Megablok playdate, I took a note from my favorite educational mommy blog, Teach Mama, and I spent some quality time playing alone with my 26 month old daughter using the Megablok toys as educational tools.

1) Color Sorting

I started by placing 1 megablok of each color in seperate tile squares on the patio.  Then I would pick one out of the bucket of multicolored megabloks and ask my daughter to tell me the color and place the block in the appropriate square.  Done!


Then I asked her to pick the color that I called out from the bin of multicolored megabloks and place it with the appropriate square with the matching colored block.  Slightly more difficult spin.


2) Shapes:  Squares, Circles and Rectangles 

We examined the megabloks from different angles and identified squares, circles, and rectangles.


3) Size:  Small vs Big

I placed a small and large megablok next to each other.  Then I would pull a block out of the bin and ask her to tell me if that was a small block or a big block and place it with the other small or big blocks.  Once we mastered 2 sizes (small and big), we moved onto small, medium, and large.  By the end, she would tell me "Momma, dis is a mejeeum one"

It's easy to run out of things to do with the little ones throughout the day so trying to take toys that you already have and using them in a new way helps to make the days go by and you can feel good knowing that you're teaching your kids in a fun way!

What are some of your favorite educational toys or activities to do with toddlers?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Shutterfly Holiday Gift Guide with Coupon Code

In my first in the series of Holiday Gift Guides, let me just tell you that This Mommy Loves Shutterfly.  I've been using Shutterfly since 2002!  Holy begeezus that's a long time to be web loyal to a company!  You're welcome, Shutterfly. 

On my 2010 Christmas Shopping List, I include a lot of personalized photo gifts.  Here are a few of my favorite items from the past which I've ordered all from Shutterfly.

Holiday Cards.  For starters, imagine my excitement last year when I realized that Shutterfly had a holiday card design that EXACTLY MATCHED my daughter's Christmas Dress (que the angels singing).  How freakin' adorable right?! The Harmounious Noir Holiday Card


Calendars:  I always order 4 calendars, one for each set of Grandparents, the Great Grandmother, and the Great Aunt.  This is such a classic go-to gift for family.  My favorite design is Flower Market.  My favorite thing about ordering calendars is that you can enter all your important dates and quickly insert those into the calendar.  All you have to do is enter the dates 1 time, and shutterfly will keep record of all of them.  You can choose what dates to insert into what calendar. 


Photo Mugs:  I think the Handy Husband said this was his all time favorite gift the first year our daughter was born.  It was a way to show her off to everyone at work each day. 

Desk Calendar:  I ordered this last year and didn't realize how big it was, but it is perfect for any family member that might have a glass covered executive style desk.  It measures 16" x 20"  This is the "Seasons" Design.


Notepads:  I personalized a little notepad for my Mom to keep by her desk and personalized it to say "Linda's Love Notes" This design is called "Sassy Girl Stripes"


Photobooks:  I created my daughter's Baby Book using Shutterfly. This was at the very top of my own Christmas Wish List in 2008.  I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS BOOK.  It is beautifully bound and I cry everytime I look through it.  Where as all the above listed items are very reasonably priced under $20 each, this book cost a pretty penny but it is my favorite gift in 3 years!  This is a great gift idea for moms, grandmas, etc. 

Right now, you can get a Shutterfly Free Shipping Coupon Code for orders over $30.  Just enter SHIP30 at checkout.  No coupon required to get 20% off calendars and 30% off photobooks right now. 

Disclosure:  Shutterfly has a program for bloggers where you can receive 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly in exchange for a post of this nature http://bit.ly/sfly2010 . No joke though, I had this post already in the works before I even heard about this (Thanks Michelle, at The Real Life Mom for the heads up).

Sunday, November 7, 2010

MegaBloks Playdate

Our playgroup kiddos range in age from 22-27 months and the last few times we've had a playdate, it usually ends up being utter chaos with little organization and a slew of toys thrown everywhere. 

I wanted to try and create a more structured playdate centered around just a few toys or stations so when I was recently given the opportunity to host a playdate sponsored by MegaBloks, I jumped at the chance. 

The Handy Husband helped to create this awesome Racetrack Mat (click for tutorial) using a painters' tarp ($7.00 from Home Depot) and spray paint.  The kids enjoyed racing their MegaBlok Trucks, Buses, and Ships on the tarp and at the end of the party it just folds up to be used another day.


Station 1:  Dump Trucks, Buses, Boats, and Tractors on the racing mat. 

The Food:
Green and Red Waffle Sticks cut in strips to resemble bloks (just mix in some food coloring with your batter)
Mega Munch Mix:  aka Chex Mix
Mega Cheese and Crackers
Mega Pretzel Bites
Water and Juice


The Kids have a ball!





The Raffle:  We were given a MegaBloks Pull Along Musical Pirate Ship to giveaway as a raffle prize.

Mega Bloks Pull Along Musical Pirate Ship

All together this was a really fun playdate.  The boys especially loved the trucks and ships and played well on the racing mat.  They all took turns rotating from the Play 'n' Go Table to the Racetrack Mat and all together the toys held their attention for close to an hour.  I found the Megabloks big enough so that they had no trouble manipulating them on their own and with help from the adults they had fun building towers and castles. 

The day after our playdate, I spent quality time alone playing with my little one and we used the MegaBloks as an educational tool to practice our colors, shapes, and sizes.  Click here to see what we did!  

Disclosure: BSM Media, MommyParties & MegaBloks supplied a party kit which included all toys for the playdate and the raffle prize.

I like to LINK UP at the following Link Parties!

Just a Girl, Tatertots and Jello, Between Naps on the Porch, Skip to My Lou, Paisley Passions, Be Different Act Normal, I Heart Naptime, Its So Very Cheri, All Thingz Related, Young & Crafty, Sumo's Sweet StuffIt's a Blog Party, Fingerprints on the Fridge, Kojo Designs, Mommas Kinda Crafty, The Trendy Treehouse, Making the World Cuter, Mad in Crafts, Bella Before and After, These Creative Juices, Lucky Star Lane, My Frugal Family, Today's Creative Blog, Someday Crafts, My Backyard Eden, 733, The Thrifty Home, Somewhat Simple, Fireflies and Jelly Beans, The Shappy Chic Cottage, The Girl Creative, Life as Lori, Beyond the Picket FenceNot So Crafty, Sugar Bee Craft Edition, The Shabby Nest, Craft-o-maniac

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